DAVENPORT, IOWA (February 19, 2021) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that former Major League catcher Chris Widger will manage their Advanced-A affiliate, the Quad Cities River Bandits, in 2021. Widger last managed in 2019, when he skippered the Appalachian League Burlington (N.C.) Royals to a 39-29 record. Prior to that, Widger spent three years (2016-18) as the Wilmington Blue Rocks’ bench coach and was slated to be the Blue Rocks’ manager in 2020.

Widger played 10 Major League seasons with the Mariners, Expos, Yankees, Cardinals, White Sox, and Orioles. The catcher won a World Series with Chicago in 2005, drawing two walks and driving in a run in the Fall Classic. He played his college ball at George Mason, which is also where Kansas City General Manager Dayton Moore and Assistant General Manager J J Picollo played.

The Royals also released the rest of the River Bandits’ coaching staff for 2021. Steve Luebber will be pitching coach while Andy LaRoche is the new hitting coach and Mike Jirschele is the bench coach.

Luebber is now in his sixteenth season with the Royals’ organization. He had stints in the big leagues with the Blue Jays, Orioles, and Twins.

LaRoche worked with Widger as the hitting coach in Burlington in 2019. He played six Major League seasons for the Dodgers, Pirates, A's, and Blue Jays.

Jirschele has been with the Royals’ organization since 1995 and has been in various roles on the minor-league and major-league sides, including Royals’ third-base coach during their World Series run in 2014 and World Series title in 2015, and, most recently, as Special Assistant to the General Manager. He played in 999 minor league games over 13+ season in the Rangers’ and Royals’ Systems.

Daniel Accola will serve as the team's athletic trainer; Tony Carney takes over as strength coach; and Matt Resar will be coordinator of clubhouse operations.


The 2021 season marks the River Bandits’ first year as a new Advanced-A major league affiliate. As such, the team will be offering higher-quality baseball than has ever before been played in the Quad Cities. Additionally, the Bandits will welcome a new MLB affiliate to the Quad Cities, the Kansas City Royals. The River Bandits anchor the Quad Cities sports market, which The Sports Business Journal named the top minor-league sports-market in the country in 2015 and second-best minor-league market in its 2017 follow-up ranking. In 2015, 2017, and again in 2019, the River Bandits earned Ballpark Digest’s award for “Best Charitable Works” in Minor League Baseball, the only club to win that coveted award three times. For more information, visit www.riverbandits.com or contact General Manager Joe Kubly at (563) 333-2768. #River Bandits#

Support the River Cities' Reader

Get 12 Reader issues mailed monthly for $48/year.

Old School Subscription for Your Support

Get the printed Reader edition mailed to you (or anyone you want) first-class for 12 months for $48.
$24 goes to postage and handling, $24 goes to keeping the doors open!

Click this link to Old School Subscribe now.

Help Keep the Reader Alive and Free Since '93!


"We're the River Cities' Reader, and we've kept the Quad Cities' only independently owned newspaper alive and free since 1993.

So please help the Reader keep going with your one-time, monthly, or annual support. With your financial support the Reader can continue providing uncensored, non-scripted, and independent journalism alongside the Quad Cities' area's most comprehensive cultural coverage." - Todd McGreevy, Publisher